Spirituality & Diversity:
by Lynnell Stephani Long
In a few weeks the AIS-DSD Support Group conference will take place, this year in Denver. I am both excited and nervous. Lately I’ve been going through some sort of spiritual metamorphosis and it’s making me think a lot about not only the people I want in my life, but also the spiritual path I am taking.
This year I can honestly say I feel my spiritual path and my intersexuality path are the same, for now. I have been a devout Buddhist and Pagan for as long as I’ve been sober, 23 years. Yet at the same time I can say I have moments where I struggle with my spirituality.
Someone said, when life gives you lemons make lemonade. What they fail to realize is it takes some sort of sweetener to make lemonade, otherwise you’re still stuck with a pocket of lemons. My sweetener has always been a belief that I am exactly where I belong. By holding that truth I can say the days I struggle with Buddhism or Paganism are so for I can learn. Frederick Douglas once said, “Without struggle there is no progress”. And it’s true. Everything I learn through A.A, Buddhism, and Paganism wouldn’t help me unless I apply it to my life. So what am I struggling with today?
When I was asked to join the board of directors for the AIS-DSD SG I thought about it before saying yes. I have always been an Intersex Activist & Educator, but how could I make that work on the board, in the background?
The Intersex community like so many other communities are learning as we go along. For instance, I am the first black person on the board of directors of the AIS-DSD SG, what pressure. I struggled with how to stay true to my radical activism while being a board member. Once of the first duties I was assigned was to from a diversity committee to help diversify our organization. That too was a struggle in the beginning. I honestly felt like it was up to me, and me alone, to diversify an organization that recently celebrated it’s 20th anniversary.
I soon realized I couldn’t do it alone. Even with the help of others I had to depend on my spirituality to help me. So I meditated, lite candles and incense, and asked that everything I do I do from my heart.
It was hard at first being in the background. I wanted change to happen quicker. I wanted spirituality to be a part of the healing process for everyone. So many of us struggle with PTSD and trauma from years of medical abuse, myself included. When the Diversity Committee was formed the radical activist in me was very helpful. I took everything I learned from my years of activism and applied it. I had awesome people work as hard as I did to get things done. WE started the Diversity Committee and WE work hard to see that everyone is welcomed.
This year is the first year the AIS-DSD SG added a spiritual track to the conference. When I learned of the components that has been added to the conference this year I immediately thanked the person responsible. This year for the first time ever there will be a healing circle, and a drum circle. Rather you are spiritual or religious it’s all part of the healing process.
So much has changed in the two years I’ve been on the board of directors, but we still have so far to go. I am truly grateful my spiritual path and my intersexuality path are one this year. Last year at the diversity committee workshop “Embracing Diversity” several people expressed their desire to see a spirituality track at the conference. This year it is no longer something a few of us hope for, it’s happening.
For over fifteen years I fought on the front lines of the Intersex movement. I’ve traveled to 30 of the fifty states of America, and Canada, educating people about Intersex. Now, as I sit in the background, I can see how my path has lead me to where I am now.
If you or someone you know is intersex visit the AIS-DSD Support Group at aisdsd.org.
Follow Lynnell at http://lynnellstephani.blogspot.com/